The new music video for Souljazz Orchestra’s “One Life To Live” captures the group’s impeccably tight live chemistry, as well as their analog aesthetic. Shot in their basement studio in Ottawa, the clip translates the intensity of the live show into a more intimate environment. With pyrotechnics like this happening like this on the regular, let’s hope the studio is well equipped for fire safety!
American soul, Nigerian-style Afrobeat, and of course jazz make up the foundations of The Souljazz Orchstra’s sound, but as prodigiously skilled musicians and prolific listeners, the Orchestra regularly incorporates other sonic reference points into their compositions. On “Kingdom Come,” one of the many highlights from their new album Inner Fire, there’s a distinct flavor of Ethio Jazz, as popularized by Mulatu Astatke. But the music, as typified by up an front raw recording style, a razor sharp rhythm section, and the prominent baritone saxophone work, is immediately recognizable as a Souljazz creation.
Watch the new video for “Kingdom Come,” comprised of public domain images of Egyptian art, below. Inner Fire is available in record stores now, as well as on iTunes, Amazon and the Strut Store (where, as always, LP orders will be shipped on limited 180 G vinyl while supplies last).
One of the most interesting aspects of the music and time period covered on our Haiti Direct release is the sheer number of stylistic fusions that characterize Haiti’s music of the 60’s and 70’s. “Pile Ou Face,” by Les Loups Noirs, stands out with the notable influence of American soul music, and the lightly psychedelic elements of the guitar and organ make it especially unique.
From the liner notes:
Led by charismatic singer Gardner Lalanne, Les Loups Noirs (The Black Wolves) were extremely popular in the ’70s, touring extensively and recording across the Caribbean and in New York and Paris. “Pile Ou Face” (heads or tails) is an uncharacteristically experimental instrumental that layers saxophones and swirling organ over a rolling compas beat – a great demonstration of the way that the timbales and percussion sections of the big bands were being replaced by stripped-back cowbell and kick drum at the beginning of the ‘70s.
Haiti Direct, compiled by Hugo Mendez of Sofrito, is out today (tomorrow in the US). Pick it up at fine music stores worldwide, or via the links below:
Every new project feels like a celebration for us, but it’s extra special when we’re able to invite our friends out to enjoy the experience with us. On Wednesday July 24th in London, we’ll be doing just that as we get down to the sounds of the new collaboration between Cornell Campbell and London’s Soothsayers. In addition to a full live performance, none-other than Jerry Dammers of The Specials will be on the decks for a DJ set. We’re already counting the days!
Wednesday July 24th @ Cotton’s (70 Exmouth Market, London)
£10 advance / £12 door
Pre-order tickets here.
Cornell Campbell is a peerless vocalist, not only in the field of reggae music, but on the broader musical landscape as whole. His collaboration with London’s Soothsayers (part of our Inspiration Information series) is something special, and should be a delight to fellow fans who have followed Campbell’s career over the decades that he’s been putting out quality music. “With You My Heart Belongs” features a great vocal performance, and tight dubby backing from Soothsayers.
The new album Nothing Can Stop Us comes out July 9th on CD, LP (w. CD insert) and digital download.
When it comes to the career of legendary session musician Alan Hawkshaw, it’s best to let him do the talking. He’s been involved with more amazing projects than we can count, and practically everything he’s had a hand in has become prized by collectors of heavy funk. We were lucky enough to sit down with Hawkshaw recently to discuss his incredible career in music, spanning his earliest groups, the KPM period, his involvement in the breakdance classic “The Champ” by The Mohawks, the transition to the disco era, and the embracing of his music by modern DJs and producers.
Our collection of essential library music on the KPM label, Music For Dancefloors, is available now.
Why do we love library music so much? Take a listen to John Cameron’s “Swamp Fever” for an idea. Air-tight musicianship, out-front back-beat, sparse arrangement, crisp recording, effortlessly funky. It’s as if it were made with the beat lovers of the future in-mind.
“Swamp Fever” is featured on our Music For Dancefloors collection, and originally appears on one of the heaviest and most sought after of all KPM LPs, Afro Rock, recorded at Morgan Studios by John Cameron and Alan Parker in London in 1973. As well as being a library music veteran (with over a dozen different LPs recorded for KPM and Bruton Music since the ’70s), Cameron is a bona fide film composer whose credits include Kes from 1969 and 1973’s A Touch Of Class (starring Glenda Jackson and George Segal) for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd on 2xCD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2xLP featuring the original studio recordings and 2xCD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert).
Early on in Strut’s existence, we created the Music for Dancefloors series in order to mine the fertile territory of production library music for under appreciated (and often extremely hard to find) gems. Originally recorded as a source of go-to material for use in film, television and radio, library music wasn’t intended to be enjoyed in a home listening context, and often wasn’t available for commercial release at all. However, due to the quality of the musicianship and the stripped-down arrangements, music from the best libraries has become extremely sought-after by DJs and producers.
The UK’s KPM library (especially its green “1000 series” of the 60s and 70s) is easily one of the most legendary sources of library funk. KPM music has been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, DOOM, Madlib and Guilty Simpson, Dangermouse, Action Bronson, and even turns up in the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s film Kill Bill (via the Grindhouse promo spot which uses Kieth Mansfield’s “Funky Fanfare”).
Out of print for years, our Music For Dancefloors release collects some of the best of KPM’s catalog, with an ear not just for loops and breaks, but quality compositions and performances that stand the test of time. We’ve included key cuts like Alan Parker’s ”That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Blue Mink’s Madeline Bell on vocals, Alan Hawkshaw’s “Senior Thump” (a precursor to his work as The Mohawks), and Keith Mansfield’s “Crash Course,” each one a classic in its own right.
This new edition features an exclusive bonus disc, which makes available for the first time the debut gig by the KPM All-Stars, bringing together many of KPM’s greatest composers for a unique night at London’s Jazz Cafe on 27th April 2000.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd in three formats: 2CD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2LP featuring the original studio recordings and 2CD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert). The album features the original sleeve notes by Charles Waring (Mojo magazine) alongside extra photos and memorabilia.
CD 1 – KPM LIBRARY CLASSICS
1. That’s What Friends Are For – Composed by Alan Parker. Vocals by Madeline Bell
2. Unlimited Love – Composed by Alan Parker
3. Funky Express – Composed by Duncan Lamont
4. Assault Course – Composed by Johnny Pearson
5. Samba Street – Composed by Barry Morgan and Ray Cooper
6. Second Cut – Composed by James Clarke
7. Swamp Fever – Composed by John Cameron
8. Reggae Train – Composed by William Farley and Dennis Bovell
9. Incidental Backcloth No. 9 – Composed by Keith Mansfield
10. Cross Talk – Composed by Francis Coppieters
11. In Advance – Composed by P. Xanten. Performed by Pierre Lavin Pop Band
12. Senior Thump – Composed by Alan Hawkshaw
13. Expo In Tokyo – Composed by Alan Moorhouse
14. Nascimbene – Interlude: Witchdoctor
15. Jungle Baby – Composed by H. Ehrlinger. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
16. Morning 1 / Morning 2 – Composed by Klaus Weiss
17. Freeway To Rio – Composed by Les Baxter
18. Brazil Express – Composed by G. Callert. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
19. Piano In Transit – Composed by Francis Coppieters
20. Crash Course – Composed by Keith Mansfield
CD 2 – KPM ALL-STARS LIVE AT JAZZ CAFÉ, LONDON. 27th April 2000
1. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Soul Thing
2. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Theme from ‘Dave Allen At Large’
3. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Beat Boutique
4. KPM All Stars – Swamp Fever
5. KPM All Stars – Unlimited Love
6. KPM All Stars feat. Emma Kershaw – That’s What Friends Are For
7. James Clarke with Steve Grey and KPM All Stars – Second Cut
8. Duncan Lamont with KPM All Stars – Funky Express
9. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Girl In A Sportscar
10. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Senior Thump
11. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Landscape
12. Alan Hawkshaw with Kirsty Hawkshaw and KPM All Stars – The Champ
13. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Crash Course
14. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – UK Sports Theme Medley: Theme from ‘The Big Match’ / Theme from BBC Wimbledon Tennis / Theme from BBC Athletics / Theme from ‘Grandstand’
Ashley Beedle is one of those incredible DJs who has most likely forgotten more about music than most of us will ever know. Hyperbole aside, it’s a thrill to hear him speak about his early nightlife experience, the transition from soundboy culture into early club days, and the music that soundtracked the different times of his life. We’re honored to have Ashley on the line-up for our Christmas Party this week, and hope you can join us for what promises to be an incredible evening!
You used to talk about soul clubs in North London that you went to when you were young. Can you tell us about those days?
Yes, I was 16 or 17 when I was going to places like Bumbles, which was either in Tottenham or Palmers Green, and the Royalty in Southgate. I actually saw Marvin Gaye perform there. At the time, I was dabbling with sound systems and I was involved with Stateside which was a sound up in Wembley. My cousin Ricky Bushell hooked me in and I travelled around with them. Already at that stage it wasn’t just about being a pure reggae sound – 2-step soul had started to come in since reggae was a very male phenomenon at his height. The DJs had realised that they had to appeal to the girls and it was soul tunes like Natalie Cole’s ‘This Will Be’ that worked and got them onto the floor. Norman Jay was doing that too with Joey on his sound.
My first club experiences were really during my last year at school when London’s West End was big. Clubs like Crackers and Obie J’s. Where I was living, Harrow (North West London) had a big club scene at the time – there was a big Asian and black population there and the soulboy thing was big. Places like Harrow Leisure Centre, the Kings Head at Harrow On The Hill, Circles in South Harrow, the Headstone in Harrow & Wealdstone and the Co-Op disco which was very influential. There was a white guy, Dave, who ran a sound system called Channel One – not the reggae one we know today – and he played big reggae hits next to tracks like Fatback Band ‘Spanish Hustle’ and ‘Going To See My Baby’, then Elton John’s ‘Philadelphia Freedom’, Mass Production – ‘Cosmic Lust’. I went to Wembley too – the Hop Bine. The dancers from Crackers used to go there and they moved around different clubs and cut each other up. It was a really interesting time. Hammersmith Palais did a Sunday gig where Kelly’s Roadshow played . The biggest tunes were The Real Thing’s ‘Can You Feel The Force’ and GQ hits like ‘Standing Ovation’. I remember there was a turning point when jazz funk became too insular – you’d be paying £20 for a rare album with just one playable track on it. Then kids got into Slave, Freeez, the Brit funk wave which was massive during the early ’80s. There was crossover with the punk scene too as punks took elements of Soulboy fashion like mohair jumpers and plastic bag tops while studded belts and winkle pickers crossed into the soul crowd. That doesn’t often get mentioned.
Which were your favourite clubs during the heyday of electro and boogie around ’83-’85? Any life-changing club moments at that time? Where did you used to buy your records back then?
This was a strange time for me – I opted out a bit during this period. I was checking bands like The Clash, A Certain Ratio, Orange Juice and Siouxsie And The Banshees. At the same time, Rob Mello and I used to go to Bentleys where Derek B was the main DJ. I first started to hear electro and boogie there, all mixed up, just as the B Boy thing was coming through. Then there was Spats in Oxford Street where Tim Westwood was the resident. He’d play that US remix of Tears For Fears with the big break, Ryuichi Sakamoto ‘Riot In Lagos’. It all changed so quickly. Boogie was big and I got totally caught up again after being an indie kid for a while! I had blue plastic brothel creepers, a quiff, the lot! There was a lot of crossover with electro and boogie. A seminal record back then was Terence T ‘Power’ which was a big record when pirate station LWR first started up. Rumour had it that it was Terence Trent D’Arby behind it but it wasn’t! It came out and I remember that you could only get it in Tower Records in Piccadilly. We had no mobiles so it was all word of mouth at that time – a collector called Rajan tipped me off that they had copies. I got there and the queue was round the block! I used to go to obvious small shops like Groove Records in Soho but HMV and Tower used to have some good records back then too. Groove would sometimes even buy their copies there. Reggae shops too – Hawkeye in Harlesden brought in UK boogie tracks and soul to broaden their selection.
How did you find the transition from sound system DJ to club DJ back in the day? Or was it a natural move for you? Where did you first cut your teeth as a DJ in clubs?
I started to make my name when I was with Shock sound system. When we started that, it was just before acid house. Rare groove was really going on but then these proto house records started to appear. I went to Meltdown one night, a club run by Jonathan More and Norman Jay at The Crypt in Brixton. They were playing proto house records mixed in with Fela and James Brown and then eventually all these other house records appeared and they played them too. There was a 12 called ‘JB Traxx’ by Duane & Co. – a massive record. That was the vibe, then Trax came in. We were then given our own room at Clink Street and that was the first time that we did longer sets, playing 2-3 hours. None of us really went to Shoom at the time but the Shoomers came to Clink St after Shoom had finished. We were playing the black end of house which was very different to their sound and we still played soul too staying tru to our suburban soulboy roots. Then Phil Perry, who had Queens in Windsor, approached me to play there – that was the first time I saw Phil, Breeze (God rest his soul) and Weatherall. They played odd records but I adored them and I kept going up to booth asking ‘what’s that, what’s that!’ Tracks like Les Negresses Vertes ‘Zobi la Mouche’, ‘Oh Well’ by Oh Well, Belgian new beat. All coming in at different angles.
You’re in Manchester now? How are you finding life there… and music?
It’s one of the best moves I’ve ever done. London was good but personalities had started to outstrip what the music was about. I found that none of them talked about music – it was all about their careers. I met with T. Williams and listening to his stuff buzzed me up again. Julio Bashmore too. Floor-edged UK funky house that references the older stuff we played but in a great new way. I did my ‘Yardism’ EP in response to that (which is doing well, may I add!). So, I moved to Manchester partly to get out of London and my partner is also studying here. There are so many little scenes here – everyone knows each other and everyone is really helpful. There’s some really new stuff up here and, dare I say it, it may be a bit ahead of London! Wet Play is a great night, Red Laser Disco, Hot Milk playing bashment (which Eoin Mcmanus who is connected to the Oi Polloi store is involved with). Another lot called New Bohemian, Irfan Rainey flying the flag for black house music – he runs a night called Community. Then the Electric Chair crews influence is here everywhere. They really were the forerunners of a lot of stuff happening in Manchester now.
At the Strut party, we’re looking forward to you getting back to the original vinyl. Do you get a chance to spin the rare older tracks as a full DJ set these days?
I do and I don’t. I try and keep a balance, making sure that I’m playing new material but bringing in old tracks too. I mix it all up. If you’ve been DJing as long as me, you start to know what your records are about. DJ Harvey said that you start to understand that when you hit 40! I’m looking forward to the Strut night – it should be great fun.
We’ve had the good fortune to be able to closely examine some incredible, seminal labels retrospective form, but we’re hard-pressed to think of a label whose output so closely mirrors the full spectrum of what we love than Celluloid records. Touching on everything from breakdance classics and early hip-hop singles to experimental disco and no wave, and even some classic soul and funk and world music fusions, Celluloid’s output is an unparalleled representation of the no-rules musical landscape of the early 80s, in New York City and beyond. CHANGE THE BEAT: THE CELLULOID RECORDS STORY 1980 – 1987 will be released February 19th on Strut.
By 1986, Laswell’s work for Celluloid became increasingly sparse as he was pulled onto major projects for Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, PiL and more. The label, meanwhile, continued its eclectic path with recordings by jazz legend Eric Dolphy, John McLaughlin and the Welcome To Dreamland compilation of out-there Japanese pop overseen by regular Laswell cohort, Fred Frith. African music also continued to feature heavily in the label’s later output through world pop stars like Kassav and Toure Kunda.
Change The Beat is released in conjunction with Jean Karakos and Celluloid Records. Formats include 2CD, 2LP and digital. All physical formats feature rare photos from the Celluloid Records archive and extended interviews with label owner Jean Karakos, Bill Laswell, Afrika Bambaataa, John Lydon, Rusty Egan (Time Zone) and more. The digital version of the album features five extra tracks not featured on the physical formats.
1. SHOCKABILLY – DAY TRIPPER 3.43
1. NINI RAVIOLETTE – SUIS-JE NORMALE 6.34